UNITED NATIONS (Feb. 29)
The General Assembly met in special session Monday to begin debate over U.S. orders to close the New York office of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s observer mission to the United Nations.
According to sources here, the Arab bloc and the PLO are seeking a resolution by the General Assembly condemning the American move, demanding that the United States submit to arbitration and that the issue be brought before the World Court in The Hague for an advisory opinion.
A draft resolution to that effect is expected to be submitted Monday night or Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, 21 countries and the PLO were scheduled to speak Monday and 27 countries, including Israel will address the General Assembly Tuesday.
It is not clear whether the United States will take part in the debate. The United States is not on the list of speakers.
The controversy arose from legislation, signed Dec. 22 by President Reagan, ordering the PLO’s observer mission closed by March 21. The Reagan administration already has ordered closure of the PLO information office in Washington, a matter now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, addressing the General Assembly Monday, said he hoped the United States can still reconcile its domestic legislation with its international obligations to meet the conditions of the 1947 U.N. Headquarters Agreement.
A CALL FOR ARBITRATION
However, if the United States cannot do this, Perez de Cuellar said he hoped it would recognize the existence of a dispute between itself and the United Nations and submit the matter for arbitration.
The United States so far has rejected that proposal. It was pointed out by diplomats here that the PLO and the Arab bloc enjoy considerable support in the General Assembly and a resolution calling for arbitration may well be adopted.
The PLO’s observer, Zehdi Terzi, addressed the General Assembly briefly Monday. He said that in the opinion of the PLO, the question is one of compliance by the United States with international rather than American domestic law.
The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Vernon Walters, said Monday afternoon that he has not received “any specific instructions” from Washington and that the United States has not reached a decision yet on how to approach the issue. Walters spoke in reply to questions at a news conference.
In Washington, State Department spokes-woman Phyllis Oakley said Monday that the General Assembly session is “ill-timed and premature,” since the U.S. government has until March 21 to decide whether to enforce congressional legislation closing the PLO mission.